Dogma Is Absolute Approval

 You can’t teach an old dogma new tricks, Dorothy Parker.

My title and subtitle tell the story of this blog. The quote explains the problem; the inability to learn. Dogma is popular. But doubt is not well liked; it has a bad reputation. Doubt, and its synonyms uncertainty, wonder, skeptical, make people apprehensive, even fearful. The truth is we cannot avoid uncertainty. This not-knowing is part of the adventure. It is also what makes us afraid,  Pema Chodron. Therefore people avoid it.

A douse of certainty, feeling sure, can overcome the fear. Absolute certainty/dogma feels even better. But doubt can’t match dogma in popularity. Dogma is truly man’s best friend, Sami Beyondananda.By dictionary definition dogma isa belief considered to be absolutely and uncontrovertibly true. Synonyms: rigid, inflexible. This means dogma is a belief that can’t be changed. Dogma says yes, with no questions asked. This means you can’t teach dogma anything.

Doubt doesn’t say yes and doesn’t say no; it says maybe. “Maybe what I believe isn’t true.” This leads to wonder, a feeling of puzzlement: “I wonder if this is true?” With dogma there is no puzzlement; there is a closed mind. Learning requires an open mind. A closed mind doesn’t have questions. Because dogma says yes to the question “Is what I believe true?” there are no more questions. Doubt raises questions. Which is the best way to learn?

Doubt, although unpopular, is the remedy for dogma. Doubt is uncertainty, and you can’t be uncertain and dogmatic at the same time. To doubt does not mean to disapprove, or to oppose. Doubt doesn’t reject; it questions.  If doubt could be considered a hypothesis, something that raises questions, it might not be unpopular. A hypothesis is something taken to be true for the purpose of investigation. Think of doubt as something to be investigated. Doubt leads to an adventure of  open-mindedness, inquiry, examination. Dogma leads to nowhere. You are already there.

It is doubt that gets you an education, Unknown. Doubt is not disapproval and it is not approval; it is wonder and maybe. If the wonder of doubt could become popular, maybe so would uncertainty. And maybe positive uncertainty would become the norm and anyone could learn new tricks. That would be wonder full. And maybe: My karma just ran over my dogma, Barbara Johnson.

 The surest way to lose the truth is to pretend you already possess it.   Gordon Allport


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  1. Eugene Unger says:

    Catma, unreachable?



  2. Marianne says:

    I understand what you are meaning about doubt and dogma. I have to say, though, there are times when a person needs to know what another person plans to do for sure. In a personal relationship or boss/employee relationship, a person needs to know the other’s plan is a certainty and not doubt whether or not it is a true decision. That is a convoluted statement. I hope it is clear what I am saying. Also, I can’t second guess myself all the time in making a decision or I become wishy-washy. Then I can’t move on anything I have to do.

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